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Bangladesh The Next Afghanistan

The book shows how terrorists are trying to convert the country into a hardline Islamic one.

books Updated: Nov 09, 2005 15:32 IST

The Next Afghanistan?
By Hiranmay Karlekar
Sage Publications
Pages: 308
Price: Rs 320/-
ISBN: 0-7619-3401-4

In recent years, Bangladesh has experienced an alarming rise in Islamist fundamentalism. The world began to take serious notice of this after the grenade attack on the Awami League`s rally in Dhaka on 21 August 2004 almost succeeded in killing off the entire top leadership of the party. This book shows that terrorist acts such as this are part of a systematic attempt to destroy Bangladesh`s secular and democratic political parties, as well as its vibrant intellectual and cultural life, and to convert the country into a hardline Islamic one.

The author further argues that the headquarters of Islamic terrorism is shifting from Afghanistan to Bangladesh, which he describes as a `soft` state with an ineffective government and police force, and which Islamist groups, with their organized and well-armed cadres, can easily dominate. Islamists are being systematically placed in key positions in government, and an Islamist state within a state is being built for the ultimate takeover of Bangladesh as the base for Islamist—including Al Qaeda and Taliban—operations in South and Southeast Asia.

This lucid, hard-hitting and well-documented book analyses in detail the circumstances—historical, social, cultural and political—which account for the rise of violent Islamist fundamentalism in Bangladesh, a country known for its cultural plurality and religious tolerance. The author also discusses the chances of halting the process, through a determined and well-strategized effort by those committed to keeping Bangladesh a moderate and tolerant modern Islamic nation.

About the author:
Hiranamay Karlekar is Consultant Editor of The Pioneer and a member of the Press Council of India. During his career, he has been Editor of The Hindustan Times , Deputy Editor of The Indian Express, Associate Editor of The Statesman and the erstwhile Hindusthan Standard published from Kolkata by the Anandabazar Patrika group.

Mr Karlekar, who started his career in journalism in 1963 as a staff reporter with the Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika, was a general secretary of the Editors' Guild of India, one of India's two national news agencies. He was a member of the Press Council of India in an earlier stint (1978-80) and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University (1966-67).

Apart from his writings as a journalist, Mr Karlekar's publications include two Bengali novels—Bhabisyater Ateet (1994) and Mehrunnisa (1995, based on Bangladesh's Liberation struggle)—and a socio-political work in English, In The Mirror of Mandal: Social Justice, Caste, Class and the Individual (1992), sponsored by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations to mark 50 yeras of India's independence.

Mr Karlekar is a keen photographer and an exhibition of his photographs was held in May 2005.

The book will be released on Friday, November 11, 2005 at the Gulmohar, IHC in New Delhi at 7:00 pm.

First Published: Nov 09, 2005 15:32 IST